Talking Sports, Life, and SpongeBob With Father-Son Broadcast Duo Ian and Noah Eagle

For Ian and Noah Eagle, sports is literally the family business. But unlike father-son combos like Dell and Steph Curry or Keith and Matthew Tkachuk, the Eagles don’t actually play in the games. Instead, they’re suiting up in a different way, donning a coat and tie to broadcast the action. Ian, 55, began doing play-by-play for the Nets when they were in New Jersey, starting on radio in 1994. He’s still the voice of the Nets, but now on television, and he intersperses that with NFL games on CBS.

Noah, 26, followed in his father’s footsteps to become a successful broadcaster in his own right. At 22, he landed a radio play-by-play gig with the Los Angeles Clippers, and he, too, has crossed over into the NFL: in recent years Noah has handled the league’s innovative Nickelodeon broadcasts, including the Chiefs-49ers Super Bowl in Las Vegas, where he was joined in the booth by SpongeBob Squarepants and Patrick Star. This summer, he’s already been on the mic for the French Open (he called in from Paris for this conversation) and will be there again next month to call men’s and women’s Olympic basketball.

But before all that, both Eagles jumped on a Zoom to tell us anything and everything about following in dad’s footsteps, mom’s role in all this, and the dreaded “nepo baby” label.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Noah, was broadcasting always the plan for you? Was it as simple as, I see what my dad is doing. That looks cool. I want to do it?

Noah: Somewhat. I would say about [age] 13 was when I lasered in on it. Before that, people would ask what I wanted to do, and the answer was very simple: I wanted to be a TV dentist, which is not a real thing. That’s something I concocted in my brain and would tell grown people. I thought I could combine Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz, filling molars, Wednesday 2:30 time slot. For whatever reason, my eight-year-old brain thought people would be interested in that.

Then I realized extra schooling, no good for me. So 13 or so, I had seen what [my dad] had done obviously, and I saw how much joy it brought him. I saw every day how excited he was to prepare for games, to go to the events, to work with cool people, to be around the action. When you see that, and you’ve got a good relationship with a parent, it becomes easier to really become magnetized to it. That’s what happened for me. But it wasn’t a foregone conclusion, and in the back of my head there was always something with mouths or teeth that just enamored me. I don’t know what it was.

Ian, as you’re watching Noah become more interested in broadcasting, is there any trepidation on your end? There’s a lot of travel, a lot of late nights. Were you ever trying to steer him away from it?

Ian: No, I never even thought about that, because it was something that he was very passionate about. I was nothing but encouraging, but I also knew the reality of the business. The reality is, if you don’t have the talent to do it, it’s probably not going to work out for you.

I have a very vivid memory of my wife and I dropping Noah off at Syracuse [ed.: Noah, like his dad, graduated from Syracuse’s famed communications program] and going through what parents go through when you drop off your oldest child at college. You go buy everything that they need for their dorm room, and the goodbyes are emotional, and the hugs. We get in the car to drive back to New Jersey, and just as we turn on the highway, my wife turns to me and asks, Is he going to be any good at this?

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